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Dentistry outreach project receives funding from the Otago Participatory Science Platform

Thursday, 6 April 2017 12:10pm

TKKM Otepoti
Pupils at Te Kura Kaupapa Māori o Ōtepoti

Sugary foods and fizzy drinks have become common dietary choices for children. The consequences of this are increases in the prevalence of diabetes, obesity and dental caries in New Zealand people, particularly so for Māori. But are children and their whānau aware of how much sugar there is in snacks and fizzy drinks? Are they aware of the hidden sugar content in processed foods? Do they know the effects of sugar on teeth and on our general health?

This project, Sugar in your diet – kino te pai!, will enable children to examine their diets and report their findings to their whānau and wider community. The project is coordinated by Dr Carolina Loch from the Department of Oral Sciences, in collaboration with A. Prof. Lyndie Foster Page, Prof. Richard Cannon, Ms. Deanna Beckett (all from the Faculty of Dentistry Sir John Walsh Research Institute) and Dr. Lisa Te Morenga (Department of Human Nutrition). The Otago Participatory Science Platform is administered by the Otago Museum, and is supported by the MBIE Curious Minds fund.

The team will work with Te Kura Kaupapa Māori o Ōtepoti staff, pupils and their whānau to investigate the sugar content in their diet and how pupils and whānau can improve their oral health. The pupils will design and carry out monthly experiments on the science behind the effects of sugar on teeth. They will also record what they normally eat and measure the amount of sugar in each type of food and drink. In parallel, their oral health will be measured at the start of the project and a tooth brushing and oral hygiene intervention will be implemented.

The team expects this initiative will result in an increase in science engagement, better oral health and improved nutritional choices for the pupils, whānau and the broader community.

For more information please contact:
Dr Carolina Loch
carolina.loch@otago.ac.nz
+64 3 479 9255